Mobile First Design is the process of creating a website or web application on the smallest screen first and scaling it up to a larger screen. Two terms that go hand and hand with Mobile First Design is Responsive Web Design (RWD) and Progressive Advancement & Graceful Degradation. Responsive web design is the design method that enables a website to fit different screen sizes automatically while displaying content intuitively based on each screen size. Progressive Advanced means design the website or web application on a lower tier phone with bare minimum functionality and enhances it as needed or throughout the development process, while Graceful Degradation means the complete opposite. Besides scaling up with Mobile First Design you must build the website or web application as minimal as possible and expand on the features as needed getting to higher powered devices.
One of the reasons Mobile First Design is important is because of how the market has shifted in accessing content. Analytics show that as of 2012 smartphone sales have overtaken PC sales, which means most people can access websites or web applications through a smartphone or tablet and are much likely to access it through a mobile device than opening a computer due to the convenience factor. Not to mention most users tend to be impatient which likely means they would rather get the result they need on the most convenient source means, in this case, a phone. On top of that, in 2016, Mobile internet usage has significantly surpassed desktop usages, once again meaning smartphone access is vital. Another important reason is the ability to save a significant amount of development time when using the Mobile First Design concept. To explain, when using the Mobile First Design Process it helps speed up development because it is always easier to increase screen real estate and add additional components or features on the screen whereas doing the contrary and taking things away from a screen is harder due to figuring out what is more important than the other. Since Google ranks websites and web applications based on not only speed and user-friendliness but mobile friendliness. By using the Mobile First Design methodology you would be able to speed up the overall page and application loading from start to finish which means much larger retention of clientele or users. If you consider a one second delay it could result in a loss of approximately 7% of clientele conversion/retention.
The main difference is the process of how the design occurs. To explain, a conventional design strategy is to create the design on any screen and scale it up or down based on what is going to be supported. Whereas, Mobile First Design is based on scaling everything up meaning going from bare minimum to extremely sophisticated and complex. It is always easier to add more to a page but on the contrary, taking away things from a page can get complicated and indecisive regarding what to remove or change. Delivering a pleasurable user experience and functionality should be the priority when it comes to design. Using this Mobile First Approach will only make life easier for designers, programmers, and even users. So why not use this approach?